Different families and different social circles have differing ideals of when they should unwrap their Christmas gifts. Some are pretty adamant about opening them only on Christmas day while others tear into their presents on the day they receive them.

the proud family tearing open presents
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While the majority open their presents on Christmas morning, does it really matter when you do it? Google “when should I open my Christmas presents” and you will come across many articles on why this day or that day is the “right” day to open your presents.

But here’s why we think that there isn’t a fixed day that you should unwrap your gifts.


A brief history of Christmas gift-giving

three religious figures figurines
Image Credit: Chris Sowder | Unsplash

The custom of giving gifts during the midst of winter dates back long before the birth of Jesus. Many early cultures had winter solstice festivals that included gift-giving. Back then, this tradition was an austere affair with people typically giving simple gifts like candles, fruits and nuts.

The tradition of gift-giving was eventually incorporated into Christianity where it was associated with Christmas. It has also become a commemoration of the three gifts that were brought to baby Jesus after He was born. Henceforth, giving presents on Christmas day has become a reminder of God’s gift to humanity and to help those in need.

When do people unwrap their Christmas presents?

  1. Christmas day (duh)

santa claus jumping into chimney and almost getting stuck
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When you were a kid, did you not jump straight out of bed on Christmas morning to go see if Santa Claus has left you a present? Most people unwrap their gifts on Christmas morning since Santa was supposed to have delivered their gifts at midnight when they’re asleep.

No, really.

But according to etiquette experts at Tatler, a magazine publication targeted towards the British upper-middle class and upper class, it is considered “vulgar” to open your presents before breakfast. Instead, one should open his/her gifts between the morning church service and lunch.

despicable me minion whaaaaat
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  1. Christmas Eve

singing christmas carols
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In some countries like Germany, Sweden and Portugal, gifts are exchanged and unwrapped on Christmas Eve as a tradition. It’s customary for families to get together on Christmas Eve to sing Christmas carols before opening the presents already laid out beneath a Christmas tree.

  1. January 6th

three kings
Image Credit: Jonathan Meyer | Unsplash

This isn’t just any day on the calendar (as arbitrary as it may seem).

Celebrated 12 days after Christmas, this is the day of the Epiphany; also known as the Feast of the Three Kings. It is a time when Christians remember the Wise Men (also called the “Three Kings”) who visited Jesus to present Him with the three gifts.

In Italy, gift giving doesn’t take place until January 6th

  1. Any other day but Christmas

christmas present dog
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For those of us who are not religious, there’s the tendency for us to not stick to the tradition of opening presents on any of those aforementioned days. We unwrap gifts as we receive them. Say, our friends organise a Christmas party a few weeks in advance of Christmas; it’s very likely that we open our presents the moment we get home from the event.

Why, you ask, do atheist celebrate Christmas?

To most non-religious people, Christmas is a day that brings people together. Christmastime is a good opportunity to reconnect with friends and relatives whom we haven’t seen since Chinese New Year, or longer.

friends gathering living room someone's home
Image Credit: Afta Putta Gunawan | Pexels

Even so, it’s not just the atheist who celebrate Christmas. Those who are of a religion that is not Christianity, also get into the spirit of Christmas and participate in certain traditions like decorating their homes for Christmas and exchanging gifts. Being around the people we love, catching up with old friends and reminiscing on a time that is long gone – that’s what Christmas means to a lot of atheists and people from a different religion.

Does it really matter?

batman thinking
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‘Tis the season for giving, receiving and spending quality time with our loved ones.

Some argue that we gotta stick to tradition and religious beliefs and unwrap gifts on a specific day. Others say that the best part about receiving a Christmas gift is the suspense and thus, prioritise waiting until Christmas Eve/Day. Yet, still others believe that gifts should be opened in the presence of the giver so it doesn’t have to be on a fixed day.

But is this ongoing debate about when’s the “proper” time to open our presents really necessary?

Everyone has their reasons for unwrapping their gifts on a specific day; it could be a religious reason or it could be something as emotive as “I just can’t wait”. But instead of focusing on the gift-giving aspect of Christmas, why not divert our attentions to the spirit of Christmas — togetherness — and simply enjoy the company of your loved ones?


If you’re still on the hunt for a belated Christmas celebration gift, why not check out these Lazada vouchers and Shopee promo codes when you do your shopping?

Read more: 6 Cheap And Cheerful Last Minute Christmas Gifts You Can DIY

*Featured Image Credit: Laura Gomez | Unsplash